biology · nonfiction

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith

I enjoyed myself quite a bit with this book, although I didn’t buy into everything that was discussed.

It went over the evolution of the Cephalopod branch and how they developed on a totally different time scale and path than did other ‘intelligent’ species on this planet. It was discovered only fairly recently that birds and dolphins and elephants have a sense of self. There have been many tests to discover just how ‘intelligent’ those species are, and the results have been remarkable. Dolphins have their own language, we sort of knew this already, but the extent of their language includes individual names. We are hoping that we’ll “crack the language” using computers and other tech to help us along within the next couple decades. Wouldn’t that be cool as shit, talk to the dolphins!

Similarly, Elephants have shown to be much more vocal than we had thought previously, probably because half of their vocalizations occur on lower wavelengths we can’t hear.

Research has taken many steps in positive directions when it comes to animal welfare, rights, and treatment while they are being used for study and research. We now have protection for all animals with a backbone… but unfortunately this does not extend to invertebrates. Even that’s beginning to change though and that’s great because it’s been shown that the Octopus and Cuttlefish are just as smart as Jays/Crows and probably on par with dogs. It’s not okay to electroshock them, to cut off arms and see what happens, to drill into their brains with no anesthetic. Some countries have already taken steps to banning this sort of research, we’re just waiting on the rest to catch up with the times.

This guy is really more of a philosopher with science in his background, the book had a lot of speculation and anecdotal evidence which is fine and interesting – just be aware of it before you buy it. As stated before, I didn’t totally buy everything since some of it was just speculation with no studies to back it up. However, most scientific research starts with speculation – look at this, isn’t that neat? I wonder if it’s because of XYZ?

The philosophical aspects also allowed for more interesting range of topics with less rules and more rigid topic structure which you find with many non fiction science books.

This guy has a passion for his topic of study, and that’s what I enjoyed most. He really loves Octopi and is advocating for their treatment and welfare to be as humane as possible. We need more people like this speaking out for those that can’t speak for themselves. Who would want to live their lives being poked, prodded, and cut apart with no medicine to dull the pain?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s